‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ Review: An Uncomfortably Comic Portrait of Adolescence’s Tragedies

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Usually when coming-of-age films are described as relatable by their biggest fans, there’s a certain extent to which it would also mean the best. Then comes a film like Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, which isn’t any ordinary film about the junior high school experience but one of the most cruel films that you could ever have imagined to be made about that point of your life. When talking about a filmmaker like Todd Solondz, it’s not hard to stray far away from words like “bizarre,” “misanthropic,” or “idiosyncratic,” and his sophomore feature captures every facet of that about him. It’s a film that captures everything that one would absolutely hate about their middle school experience by tapping into the most sensitive areas of your memories of having once undergone that period of your life. The more you feel relieved, you also see someone else suffering something you did, and Welcome to the Dollhouse might make you laugh at one’s own humiliation – to the point you feel bad about it too.

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‘Toy Story’ Review: The Enduring Freshness of the First Ever Fully Computer-Animated Feature

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For many moviegoers who were born around the 90’s or grew up into the 2000’s, the title “Toy Story” evokes a feeling of nostalgia one way or the other. Of course, for myself, Toy Story holds a special place in my heart not only for being my earliest memory of ever watching a movie but also being one among the first films that I distinctly remember branding “my favourite.” And although the title has been taken away by numerous films ever since as I continued developing my own taste in cinema, Toy Story still remains a favourite for even if the animation style may appear rather aged when put aside many future computer-animated features let alone the rest of Pixar Animation Studios’s oeuvre, it still feels every bit as fresh as it did the first day I remember having watched it. Noting its innovations for the time period as it was the very first feature film entirely animated through the use of computer-generated imagery, there are many more reasons as to why Toy Story still remains a huge staple for pop culture in the many years that have passed since its release and for every bit as enduring as its legacy is, it still remains Pixar’s finest achievement in my eyes.

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Heat – Review

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There are two sides to the battle as portrayed in Michael Mann’s epic crime drama Heat that grants it the title of being one of the best films of its own time. Putting Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together for once after their share from The Godfather: Part II, what we have now is a different crime saga, but one within the streets of Los Angeles. Under the hands of any other filmmaker, Heat could almost have found itself falling in the same category as just about any other cops-and-robbers tale, but there’s a great sense of humility present in the way that Michael Mann is telling his own story that ultimately has made his work one of the defining works of its era. Michael Mann’s Heat doesn’t simply carry its own weight through a sense of the action, its strength lies inside the morality at play.

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Ghost in the Shell – Review

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Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell is a film that I still find myself getting lost within as the film absorbs myself into its own world. It’s worth noting that the film is influential upon later science fiction works such as The Wachowskis’ The Matrix and there’s a count to which it carries its own importance for how it brought recognition towards anime films in the West alongside Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. While both films are absolutely stunning in their own regards, I favour Ghost in the Shell not only on the count that it was one of the earliest memories I went beyond the films of Studio Ghibli when exploring anime but the sort of style to which it had carried was one that had always appealed to me more. Philosophical cyberpunk animation that pays its own dues towards other earlier science fiction works while remaining big on its own: you can count me in.

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Showgirls – Review

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Imagine the sort of sleaziness that can only be found one place and nowhere else; it’s the sort that Paul Verhoeven wishes for his viewers to experience through Showgirls. Everyone already knows Showgirls from its notorious career-ruining reputation together with a consistent positioning amongst what are supposedly the worst films ever made and even sweeping a record at the Golden Raspberry Awards. Yet in spite of this infamy, it managed to grow a cult within following years on home video, some people saying it may be “so bad it’s good,” but others calling for re-evaluation. “So bad it’s good” it may be for some but I happen to be among the camp that thinks Showgirls is genuine good: a misunderstood work brimming with brilliance.

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Casino – Review

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Scorsese’s Casino is an overwhelming one from him – but for how much it sprawls through in order to run the three hour running time it carries but never is it a bore. After Goodfellas it was only fitting that Martin Scorsese would come together with writer Nicholas Pileggi once again but this time for something much bigger and while it may not necessarily be the better film from their collaborations, what they have formed through Casino is indeed one of Scorsese’s finest achievements as of yet. In some ways it may be Scorsese’s answer to Francis Coppola’s The Godfather for it signifies a greatness calling back to such a work through the large scale of events.

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Before Sunrise – Review

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Richard Linklater starts off a new journey inside of his body of work that would soon go on to span through time with the same characters in Before Sunrise. But for as simple as the idea sounds on paper what came out was nothing short of resonant in the best sense and it only calls out for wonder on every seemingly small turn – for it was also what the Texan filmmaker was best at. There’s an incredible understanding coming about on Richard Linklater’s end as for how romance can allow itself to develop and it was all from something that appeared small but that’s the very least of where such an incredible journey has only found its beginning.

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Clueless – Review

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If John Hughes high school films carry a good amount of what I dislike watching in the sort, then Clueless is what I would cite as a perfect example of the high school movie done right. Amy Heckerling’s loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma works on a count that not only is it one of these teen films by appearance, but also at how it’s poking fun at the sort of ideas that they present on the screen. It took me a second viewing to realize what it was about Clueless that I absolutely loved about it, for it had been years since I last came around to watching it. Amy Heckerling leaves behind not only a fun teen comedy, but a cultural staple for the 1990’s going down from both the fashion and the soundtrack, and an entertaining time capsule from start to finish. It can be referred to as a “chick flick” all you want it to be, but that doesn’t take the clever aspects of it away. Continue reading →

To Die For – Review

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I dislike many of Gus Van Sant’s films, so I was admittedly rather steady before coming into To Die For. Coming out of To Die For, the most pleasant surprise to which I have acquired out of it was that Gus Van Sant has indeed created a film that I also found myself never completely detached from in the end. With To Die For, Gus Van Sant has created a satire unlike any other, something that still rings quite amazingly with the mentality of people and a fear of their lack of relevance as time passes by especially among people who have earned fame for a short while. I only wish that Gus Van Sant had stayed so consistent in terms of the quality of his films especially when he has something as great as To Die For under his own belt. A film that’s truly as funny as it is also scary. Continue reading →

The American President – Review

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You’d expect quite a lot with the promise that a script from Aaron Sorkin can imply but The American President is a perfect example of material where I’m not so sure he’s well-suited. I’ve been a fan of the writer especially when it comes to how quickly he writes down the dialogue to his films for they always move at rapid fire and while those specific Sorkin trademarks are present, there are moments to which The American President are more interesting than most of what’s left behind but as it stands, I was simply left cold with what I received. Continue reading →